Torrential rains which caused havoc in Argentina washed away a fridge too.


The floods gave children a free day from school as authorities battled to clean up streets choked with debris.


This footage was filmed in the city of La Rioja, in the north-western Argentine province of the same name.


The floodwaters carried away cars, flooded basements and caused immense damage to buildings.


But it was the video of the fridge - the indispensable consumer tool of ordinary households - which came to symbolise the destructive power of the rainstorms.


The person recording the bobbing cool box is heard to say: "Oh, the fridge, is being dragged", until it is seen smashing against a bridge.


More than 53 ml of water were registered in a matter of hours falling on a Rioja.


One of the most severely hit buildings was the local primary school where the roof caved in.


The hospital Vera Barros, one of the most important of the province, was also partially flooded.


La Rioja is one of Argentina's main farming regions and it, along with five other areas, were declared flood emergency zones by the government.


Officials are making special credit lines and tax breaks available to affected growers in the soy and corn exporting powerhouse.


This year's El Nino weather pattern, which causes global climate extremes, has worsened floods in some parts of South America, including Argentina.


In other areas, such as Colombia, it has brought drought.


Argentina is the world's top supplier of soy meal livestock feed, third biggest supplier of raw soybeans and No. 4 corn exporter. Fruit growers and cattle ranchers were also covered by the emergency resolution.


Meteorologist Anthony Deane of consultancy Weather Wise Argentina said key grains production areas in southeast Cordoba, southern Santa Fe and northwest Buenos Aires are suffering from too much ground moisture to outright flooding.


"The question is how much rain is going to keep falling," Deane said. "I expect 100 to 130 millimeters (3.94 inches to 5.12 inches) to fall over the next ten days in these three areas, which is more than what has been the normal rate over the last five years. So the situation is going to get worse before it gets better."

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Author: Martina Salas

I am a journalist focus in human interest stories from Spain and Latin America.